Located along the eastern shore of Maryland near the city of Crisfield, Jane’s Island is the home of Jane’s Island State Park, which features 30 miles of water trails and a number of natural isolated beach areas. The land that now encompasses Jane’s Island State Park was originally inhabited by Paleoindians more than 13,000 years ago, when sea levels were more than 350 feet lower than during the modern era and the area was populated by woolly mammoths, mastodons, and bison.
Following the end of the most recent Ice Age, the Tangier Sound evolved from a freshwater river into an estuary ecosystem, and the culture of the area’s indigenous people began to shift toward activities such as fishing and oyster-shucking. By the time of the arrival of Europeans in North America, the island was inhabited by the Annemessex Nation. Throughout much of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, the island was inhabited by fishermen and contained several small communities, but as a result of storm damage and erosion, the island had become an uninhabited marshland by the early 20th century. In 1963, the State of Maryland authorized the creation of Jane’s Island State Park, which would span area on both the island and its nearby mainland. From 1965 to 1978, more than $1 million was allocated by the Maryland General Assembly for the development of the park, including the implementation of erosion control measures and the construction of camping facilities on the mainland.
Today, Jane’s Island State Park is operated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a public park facility encompassing more than 2,900 acres of salt marsh on the island, along with 30 miles of water trails within the surrounding waterways and a number of facilities and visitor amenities on the mainland. The island is located between the Tangier Sound and the Little Annemessex River and provides a wildlife refuge habitat for bird, fish, and crab species. The park is open to the public daily throughout the year from sunset to sunrise, with special extended hours available for certain activities, including fishing and hunting. Several accessible facilities are offered, including a Park Store and Nature Center.
The park features a system of more than 30 miles of marked water trails, which meander through the island’s salt marsh environment and are available for self-guided visitor exploration. The system has been listed on the American Canoe Association’s list of recommended water trails as an ideal trail for both beginner and advanced paddlers, due to its easy current and wind-protected atmosphere. The trails provide access to a seven-mile-stretch of isolated pristine beaches on the island, which may be explored by visitors. Several backcountry camping sites are also offered along the trails for visitors who have obtained backcountry camping permits from the park.
A variety of services are offered by the park for boaters, including canoe and kayak rentals, which are available at the park’s store from late April through mid October. All boats are available on a first-come, first-served basis for hourly or daily rental. Other boating services provided include a launching ramp and boat slips for campers. Fishing and crabbing opportunities and a fish cleaning station are offered for visitors with Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing Licenses. Direct access to the Tangier Sound, Crisfield Harbor, and the Annemessex River are offered. The park’s marina is a certified Maryland Clean Marina facility and takes care to preserve the waterways of the region for future generations.
In addition to boating and fishing, a number of outdoor activities are offered at the park, including opportunities for swimming along the park’s Tangier Sound-side beaches. Access to the beaches is only available via boat, and visitors should swim at their own risk and be aware of water conditions. Bird watching opportunities are provided from an observation tower on the mainland, with bird watcher’s checklists available at the park’s store. Several picnic areas offer tables, charcoal grills, playgrounds, and a volleyball court, with picnic pavilion areas available for rental for large groups.
A variety of overnight accommodations are offered at the park, including four modern log cabins that sleep up to six visitors. All cabins feature modern amenities such as heat and air conditioning, gas log fireplaces, outdoor grills, and kitchen appliances, though renters must provide their own bedding and towels. Temperature-controlled camper cabins are also available, sleeping up to four visitors. More than 100 campsites are located throughout the park, with half equipped with electrical hookups for vehicle and tent campers. All sites offer picnic tables, fire rings, lantern posts, and a camping pad. Three communal bath house facilities offer showers, flush toilets, and coin-operated laundry machines. The park’s Daugherty Creek Conference Center is also available for daily and overnight rentals, featuring conference rooms, a screened porch with outdoor grill, a full kitchen facility, and overnight accommodations for up to 16 visitors.
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